Please note that this is my own personal blog and therefore the views and opinions expressed, although in no way intended to be controversial, are not necessarily those shared by my employers Abbotsbury Tourism Ltd. and Ilchester Estates . All photos are © Steve Groves unless otherwise credited.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Swannery Bird News - December 2015

There were no rare vagrants, scarce migrants or 'Swannery first's' this month so it's straight on with the rest of the news...


The two first winter Long-tailed Ducks still lingered from November but they were very elusive, only being seen on the 5th and 13th. 

A 1st winter Long-tailed Duck from December 2013 (with Tufted Ducks & a Pochard)

Last month's five Scaup were all seen too but were equally erratic in their appearances with no more than three seen at any one time and they were often absent completely. The drake was also reported at nearby Lodmoor RSPB fairly frequently though and it or another drake was also seen, in company of two of the 'females' off Tidmoor Point on the East Fleet. So it seems likely that the Scaup, along with the two Long-tailed Ducks, when not at The Swannery, were still mostly somewhere on The Fleet. 

A drake Scaup from December 2013

Also of note was a Goosander (a 'Redhead'), still a relatively scarce sight on The Fleet, on the 1st.

Not the 'Redhead' Goosander but one from December 2013

In addition to the three species mentioned above the peak counts of the commoner wildfowl were: 

Mute Swan 640; 

Black Swan 2; 
Canada Goose   50; 
Brent Goose 20; 
Shelduck 40; 
Wigeon 700;
Gadwall 1; 
Teal 950;
Mallard  520; 
Pintail 40;
Shoveler  60;
Pochard 210; 
Tufted Duck 200;
Goldeneye 4; 
Red-breasted Merganser 4o.

Other Water Birds... 

Great Northern Diver that flew south-east over The Swannery Embayment on the 1st was only the third seen in the recording area during my 26 year tenure. 

Two 'firsts of the year' were a Black-necked Grebe on the 13th (although technically it was just south-east of the recording area on The Fleet off Seventeen Acre Point) and a Fulmar looking somewhat out of place settled on The Fleet in The Swannery embayment on the 1st.

Peak counts of the commoner species were: 

Cormorant 8; 
Little Egret 7; 
Grey Heron 1; 
Little Grebe 30; 
Great Crested Grebe 20; 
Water Rail 1; 
Moorhen 30; 
Coot 1350.


There were only three species seen this month and peak counts of these were: 

Lapwing 100;
Snipe 3; 
Redshank 4.

A Snipe from last winter


There were no gulls of any real note and peak counts of the commoner species were:

Black-headed Gull 110;

Mediterranean Gull 35;
Common Gull 830;
Lesser Black-backed Gull 1;
Herring Gull 100;
Great Black-backed Gull 50. 


There were no noteworthy sightings (not even any Marsh Harriers) but the five most regular species were noted in varying numbers:   

Tawny Owl,

Other Non-Passerines...

There were no noteworthy sightings but seven regular species were noted in varying numbers: 

Domestic/Feral Pigeon
Stock Dove
Wood Pigeon,
Green Woodpecker,
Great Spotted Woodpecker.


Highlights were a calling but unseen Siberian Chiffchaff on the 7th, along with regular single Common Chiffchaffs and a single Fieldfare (but no Redwings) on the 3rd. 

Other species noted in varying but unremarkable numbers were: 

Carrion Crow
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Coal Tit
Sky Lark
Cetti's Warbler...

A Cetti's Warbler from December 2011

Long-tailed Tit
Song Thrush
Mistle Thrush
House Sparrow, 
Grey Wagtail,
Pied Wagtail,
Meadow Pipit,
Rock Pipit,
Reed Bunting.

And that's it for this month

You may have noticed the lack of new photographs in this post due in no small part to the exceptionally wet conditions. Hopefully normal services will be resumed next month!